A D.C. Superior Court judge gave city officials permission yesterday to make public a previously confidential report detailing the city's handling of an 11-year-old boy who was sexually assaulted in a courthouse cell last year.
According to an attorney for the boy's family, the report -- which is expected to be released today -- absolves city officials of any responsibility in the attack, saying that police and city prosecutors followed accepted procedures.
But, said lawyer Daniel Arshack, the report also concludes that police have "no stated policy" for dealing with situations such as this, in which an 11-year-old with no previous criminal record was arrested and charged with assault after he struck a friend with a baseball bat while playing.
Arshack, who was allowed to read the report following a closed hearing before Judge Gladys Kessler, said he was pleased that more details about the incident are to be released, but he criticized the city's response as too little and too late.
"Nearly a year after the event, it's an obviously self-serving attempt to cover serious lapses in judgment on the city's part," Arshack said. "Instead of answering the real question here -- why is an 11-year-old put in jail with older, dangerous juveniles -- they're constructing a revisionist history which bears no resemblance to reality."
The report was prepared by police and members of the corporation counsel's office.
The 11-year-old was arrested after a May 22 incident in which the boy said he "accidentally" hit a playmate in the head. The injured boy was cut and required stitches and his mother complained to 4th District police.
The mother of the 11-year-old took her son to the station house after an officer called her to say the boy would be arrested. The family maintains that police took custody of the boy and took him to Superior Court, where he was turned over to deputy U.S. marshals and placed in a cell with three other youths.
Two older youths attacked the boy and twice forced him to commit sodomy. The 11-year-old was later found to have contracted syphilis. The two youths involved in the attack later pleaded guilty to sodomy.
The Corporation Counsel's office had maintained in court papers that the mother was given a choice about whether her son would be incarcerated. But Arshack said that the police report says only that officers told the mother they would take the boy to court that day, or that she could do so the next day.
Arshack insists that the mother, who died of a bleeding pancreas last September, was not given a choice in her son's arrest.
"The most glaring difficulty is with the notion that the child's mother had any idea, no less a choice, about her child being locked up," Arshack said. "No mother, given those sets of circumstances, would calmly submit to police taking her 11-year-old child and locking him up."
Mayor Marion Barry had requested the report after an article about the incident was published in The Washington Post. City officials, claiming the information was confidential under the District's juvenile code, asked Kessler for permission to release it.